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Old 23-10-2007, 18:57   #1
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Rogue Waves and Seiche Waves

Hello,

My future plans for the Great Lakes include, umm... sailing on them. But I have a major, and possibly irrational, fear of taking too small a boat into these inland "seas" due to the phenomena of Rogue Waves and Seiche Waves. I am admittedly unfamiliar with the particulars of these hydrological formations (or events), but I know that it is possible that they sank the Edmund Fitzgerald.

I know this is kind of like being one of those people who is afraid to fly after 9/11, but I don't like the idea of an invisible wave sinking me. Anyone have any thoughts on these phenoms?
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Old 23-10-2007, 20:19   #2
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Like you said, irrational. Be more worried about getting in a highway accident, or of a heart attack, or one of the any number of other things more likely to happen.
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Old 23-10-2007, 20:54   #3
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Oh c'mon nothing to be scared of. Just go to YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. and search rogue wave and freak wave. After watching these maybe it will ease you mind. Hehe.........
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Old 23-10-2007, 21:19   #4
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Rogue waves generally come from sustained strong wind shifting from quadrants and creating swells from slightly different directions that can "stack up" on one another and just knock the **** out of you, especially when moving into shallower water. I don't have any idea what a seiche wave looks like or how it comes about. In the Great Lakes, I'm guessing that you get nasty, close together swell with lots of growlers and slop. More a challenge to keep your stern square than an overwhelming sea. That being said, respect the weather, and have no fear.
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Old 24-10-2007, 00:25   #5
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I wouldn't worry about it. Most professional mariners never see one in their lifetime. They see some big ass waves..but rogue waves are an extreme rarity.
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Old 24-10-2007, 01:57   #6
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There has been a project done using satalite monitoring to pick up these waves. Do a google. quote BBc. "The shady phenomenon of freak waves as tall as 10 storey buildings has finally been proved, the European Space Agency (Esa) said on Wednesday.

Sailors often whisper of monster waves when ships sink mysteriously but, until now, no one quite believed them.
As part of a project called MaxWave - which was set up to test the rumours - two Esa satellites surveyed the oceans. During a three week period they detected 10 giant waves, all of which were over 25m (81ft) high. " But I think you would be pushing to find them on an inland water system.
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Old 24-10-2007, 02:22   #7
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Ship-sinking monster waves revealed by German Aerospace Centre (ESA) satellites
ESA Portal - Ship-sinking monster waves revealed by ESA satellites

Exploring Rogue Waves from Observations in South Indian Ocean
http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/pubs/fullt...4/20040037.pdf
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Old 24-10-2007, 05:46   #8
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Seaworthy,

Being a Great Lakes sailor myself, I can tell you that yes the waves on lake Michigan can be big at times and the sets are closer to together vs ocean sailing where the swells are the norm. Not sure how far or where your port is from on the Great Lakes, however if you are going to venture out on a body of water, such as Lake Michigan, depending on your sailing experience, skill and boat, I wouldn't venture out long distance cruising with a boat nothing less than 27-30'.

Are there Rogue waves on Lake Michigan? yes. BUT - don't worry about them, if you watch the weather, have a good boat, good crew and keep safety in mind, you'll be fine.

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Old 24-10-2007, 05:54   #9
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I wouldn't worry too much about either phenomenon. Seiches are standing waves with extremely long wave-lengths; they're most dangerous when you're tied up alongside, or in shallow waters as the seiche could change the depth of the water well beyond normal tidal range. Rogue waves don't happen on flat water - weather forecasting has improved considerably since Edmund Fitzgerald went down, so you should be able to avoid storm conditions.
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Old 24-10-2007, 07:23   #10
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Well, I feel better... I think. Aside from the scare tactics good advice. Watch the weather, and don't fear an untimely death due to freak waves!

And also plan on getting a larger boat than I was thinking.
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Old 24-10-2007, 15:11   #11
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every year thousands more people die from bee stings than rogue waves....
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Old 24-10-2007, 19:18   #12
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I have sailed on the Great Lakes for 23 years now, the majority on Lake Superior. Much of this has been with my 22 ft trailersailor and I have not just hung out around the Apostle Islands but have covered much of the Lake. Some that I meet express the opinion that my boat is too small and there where times I wished it were bigger, but I have never felt that I was ever in danger in any of the conditions I have met. If I had listened to what I thought were the "experts" when I first started I would have never left the confines of the Apostle Islands. I have met others with these smaller boats out there so I am not the lone lunatic.
I don't think rogue waves are much of an issue on the Great Lakes and the seiche is not of much concern unless anchored with less than a foot under your keel. The largest seiche I have experienced was about a foot when anchored in Horace Cove in the Slate Islands. I was in three feet of water and it dropped down to two and back up to three several times over the course of the afternoon. I drew 1'10" with the keel and rudder up. No waves just a steady rise and fall of the water level. It seems more noticable in long, narrow, shallow bays and coves.
I think that the biggest danger is the fast moving thunderstorms that we get in this area of the country. While you usually get a decent warning sometimes they can be more severe that anticipated. Winds of 50- 80 miles per hour are not unheard of. Luckily the duration is usually short so that very large waves seldom develope. I will agree with the statement about the waves on the lakes being closer together and steeper that those on the ocean. The most uncomfortable conditions I have been in waves on Lake Huron in 4-5 waves that were very close and almost vertical. It was bloody awful!
The reputation of the Lakes, Superior especially, is worse than the reality so be somewhat skeptical of the scare stories of others. Watch the weather, have a well found boat reguardless of size, a little common sense and you will be alright.
With the ridiculous cost of a marina berth for the short season a trailerable boat is a viable option. You can pluck all the best plums the Lakes have to offer. The Apostle Islands, the Canadian Shore, Isle Royale, North Channel and Georgian Bay in Lake Huron, Thousand Islands in Lake Ontario, Door County, etc.
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Old 25-10-2007, 06:24   #13
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The "Fitzgerald" a great lakes ore carrier with leaking cargo hatches is not what comes to mind when one thinks of seaworthiness. The size of the vessel does not determine how well it will weather a bad situation, as much as the design, maintenance and skill of the crew. The main thing is to keep the water on the outside of the vessel. A simple example of this would be to take the "Fitzgerald" a massive ore carrier and little household light bulb and put them back in time to place where the wreck happened and float them both. You could bet that the light bulb will still be floating when the storm passes and the Fitzgerald would be on the bottom.
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Old 25-10-2007, 09:10   #14
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Good advice, everyone! I feel a little better about taking a trailerable 25' sailboat (which is my boat of preference) to various locations in the Great Lakes. I guess my fear was like that irrational fear of a shark attack: it's a scary way to die, but you're not likely to be one of the lucky TEN people that get bit each year.

Thanks for allaying my fears, but also emphasizes the need for caution and common sense!
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Old 24-11-2007, 14:49   #15
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30 years cruising on the Great Lakes and I have never heard of a rogue wave on our waters here. Seiches are not a problem for boaters at sea as the water rise or fall is not accompanied by a huge wave. i was in one one time where the water level rose 3 or 4 feet. We were standing on the dock and had to keep our boats from floating over the submerged fingers. It was not a life threatening situation, but pretty weird, nonetheless.
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